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Νικόμαχος Γερασηνός, (or Γερασινός), called Gerasenus, from his native place, Gerasa in Arabia, was a Pythagorean, and the writer of a life of Pythagoras, now lost. His date is inferred from his mention of Thrasyllus, who lived under Tiberius. He wrote on arithmetic and music, and is the earliest, we believe, of those whose names became bye-words to express skill in computation. In the Philopatris is the phrase "you number like Nicomachus of Gerasa." This writer exercised no small influence on European studies, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; but indirectly. Boethius, in his arithmetical work, is no more than the abbreviator of the larger work of Nicomachus, now lost. The never-ending distinction of specific ratios by names (see Numbers, old appellations of, in the Supplement to the Penny Cyclopaedia), is the remote consequence of Nicomachus having been a Pythagorean.


The extant works of N icomachus are:--

1. Ἀριθμητικης εἰσααγωγῆς Βιβλία Β

The lesser work on arithmetic.


It was printed (Gr.) by Christian Wechel, Paris, 1538, 4to.; also, after theteologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iambilichus, Leipzig, 1817, 8vo. A Latin version by one Appuleius is lost, as also various commentaries, of which only fragments remain.

2. Ἐγχειρίδιον ἁρμονικῆς Βιβλία Β

A work on music, first printed (Gr.) by Joh. Meursius, in his collection, Leyden, 1616, 4to, and afterward in the collection of Meibomius, (Gr. Lat.), Amsterdam, 1652, 4to; and again in the works of Meursius by Lami, Florence, 1745, fol.

Lost Works

The works which are lost are a collection of Pythagorean dogmata, referred to by Iambilichus; a larger work on music, promised by Nicomachus himself, and apparently referred to by Eutocius in his comment on the sphere and cylinder of Archimedes; θεολογούμενα ἀριθμητικῆς, mentioned by Photius, but a different work from that above alluded to; τέχνη ἀριθμητικὴ, the larger work above noted, distinctively mentioned by Photius; a work on geometry, to which Nicomachus himself once refers; περὶ ἑορτῶν Αἰγυπψίων, mentioned by Athenaeus, but whether by this Nicomachus or another, uncertain.

Further Information

Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 629; Hoffman; Schweiger.

[A. De M.]

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